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Guinea, officially Republic of Guinea ( , ), is a country in West Africa formerly known as French Guinea (Guinée française). The country's current population is estimated at 10,211,437 (CIA 2008 estimate).

Guinea's size is almost . Its territory has a crescent shape, with its western border on the Atlantic Oceanmarker, curving inland to the east and south. The Atlantic coast borders Guinea to the west, along with Guinea-Bissaumarker. Senegalmarker forms its inland northern border, along with Malimarker, to the north and north-east. Côte d'Ivoiremarker is to the south-east, Liberiamarker to the south and Sierra Leonemarker to the southwest. The Niger River runs through the nation, providing both water and irregular transportation.

Conakrymarker is the capital, seat of the national government, and largest city. The nation is sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbor Guinea-Bissaumarker. Guinea is home to twenty four ethnic groups, the three largest and most dominant are the Fula, Mandinka and Susu.

History

The land composing present-day Guinea was part of a series of empires, beginning with the Ghana Empire which came into being around A.D.900. This was followed by the Sosso kingdom in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Mali Empire took control of the region after the Battle of Kirinamarker in 1235, but grew weaker over time from internal conflicts, which eventually led to its dissolution. Europeans first came to the area during the era of Portuguese discoveries in the fifteenth century. The European slave trade began the next century.

One of the strongest successor states of the Mali Empire was the Songhai Empire. It exceeded its predecessors in terms of territory and wealth, but succumbed to civil war. Eventually, it was toppled at the Battle of Tondibi in 1591.

An Islamic state was founded in the eighteenth century which brought stability to the region. Simultaneously, the Fulani Muslims arrived in the highland region of Fouta Djallon.

Francemarker colonised Guinea in 1890 and appointed Noël Balley as the first governor. The capital Conakrymarker was founded on Tombo Islandmarker in the same year. In 1895 the country was incorporated into French West Africa.

Independence

Monument to commemorate the 1970 military victory over the Mercenaries invasion.
On 28 September 1958, under the direction of President Charles de Gaulle, Metropolitan France held a referendum on a new constitution and the creation of the Fifth Republic. The colonies, except Algeriamarker, which was legally a direct part of France, were given the choice between immediate independence or retaining their colonial status. Guinea chose independence, the only colony to do so. Thus, Guinea became the first French African colony to gain independence, on 2 October 1958, at the cost of the immediate cessation of all French assistance.

After independence, Guinea was governed by President Ahmed Sékou Touré. Touré pursued broadly socialist economic policies and suppressed opposition and free expression. Under his leadership, Guinea joined the Non-Aligned Movement and pursued close ties with the Eastern Bloc.

A small army of Portuguese soldiers and Portuguese-armed Guineans invaded Guinea in 1970.They finally gained their independence from France on October 2, 1958. After they received their independence the men celebrated with breads and wines while the women were not allowed to celebrate they had to stay home and if there were children in the home they were to stay and care for them. The reason for this was because the women back then were not allowed to go into wars so the men thought of it as if you didn't fight for the freedom you did not get to celebrate it. They also had what they call Demonyms for it was a greek name that was carried into their time through all the years. Thier Demonyms was Guinean.

Conté government

After Touré's death in 1984, Lansana Conté assumed power and immediately changed his predecessor's economic policies, but the government remained dictatorial. The first elections since independence were held in 1993, but the results and those of subsequent elections were disputed. Conté faced domestic criticism for the condition of the country's economy and for his heavy-handed approach to political opposition.

While on a visit to France with his family in 2005, Prime Minister François Lonseny Fall resigned and sought asylum, citing corruption and increasing interference from the President, which he felt limited his effectiveness as the head of the government. Fall's successor, Cellou Dalein Diallo, was removed in April 2006, and Conté failed to appoint a new one until the end of January 2007 after devastating nationwide strikes and mass demonstrations. During 2006, there were two nationwide strikes by government workers, during which 10 students were shot dead by the military; strikes were suspended when Conté agreed to more favorable wages for civil servants and a reduction of the cost of the basic amenities, rice and oil.

At the beginning of 2007, citing the government's failure to honour the terms of previous agreements, trade unions called new strikes, protesting rising costs of living, government corruption, and economic mismanagement. Lasting for more than two weeks, these strikes drew some of the largest demonstrations seen during Conté's tenure and resulted in some 60 deaths. Among the unions' demands was that the aging and ailing President name a consensus prime minister to fill the post vacant since Diallo's removal, and relinquish to him certain presidential responsibilities. Conté reluctantly agreed to appoint a new prime minister and lower fuel and rice prices, thus ending the strikes.

On 13 February 2007, upon the nomination of Eugène Camara, viewed as a close ally of Conté, to the post of Prime Minister, violent demonstrations immediately broke out throughout the country. Strikes resumed, citing the President's failure to nominate a "consensus" prime minister per the 27 January 2007 agreement. Martial law was declared after violent clashes with demonstrators, bringing the death toll since January to well over 100, and there were widespread reports of pillaging and rapes committed by men in military uniform. Government buildings and property owned by government officials throughout the country were looted and destroyed by angry mobs. Many feared Guinea to be on the verge of civil war as protesters from all parts of Guinea called for Conté's unequivocal resignation.

After diplomatic intervention from the Economic Community of West African Statesmarker (ECOWAS) and neighboring heads of state, Conté agreed to choose a new prime minister from a list of five candidates furnished by the labor unions and civic leaders. On 26 February 2007, Lansana Kouyaté, former Guinean ambassador to the UN, was nominated to the post. Strikes were called off, and the nomination was hailed by the strikers.

Guinea and other neighbouring states of West Africa, have become major drug-trafficking hubs.

Guinea is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).

Military government

On 23 December 2008, Aboubacar Somparé, President of the National Assembly, flanked by Prime Minister Kouyaté, and Diarra Camara the head of the Army, announced that Conté had died "after a long illness". Under the Guinean constitution, Somparé was to assume the Presidency of the Republic and a new presidential election was to have been held within 60 days.

However, six hours after the announcement of Conté's death, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara announced a coup d'état by a junta, known as the National Council for Democracy and Development, saying that "the government and the institutions of the Republic have been dissolved". Camara also announced the suspension of the constitution "as well as political and union activity".

Ahmed Tidiane Souaré was appointed prime minister in May 2008. He replaced Lansana Kouyaté, a former UN diplomat who had been appointed by President Conté fifteen months earlier under a deal to end a general strike against the president's rule. Following his appointment, Mr. Souaré said he planned to continue changes begun by Mr. Kouyaté and "to restore authority to the state because we're in a state of disarray." He is a member of former President Conté's Party of Unity and Progress and previously served as minister of mines and geology and as minister for higher education and scientific research.

Camara's leadership initially after the coup was challenged by Sekouba Konate, commander of a special forces unit within the capital barracks. Lots were then drawn between Camara, Konate, and a third officer (unknown at this time), with Camara winning after two drawings.

The junta promised to hold a new presidential election at the end of a two-year transitional period.

On September 28, 2009, Camara's troops went on a rampage at a political protest rally at a stadium in Conakry, killing 157 people, wounding hundreds, and raping women in attendance.

Government and politics

Captain Moussa Dadis Camara is head of the military junta that currently runs Guinea. Commander Sekouba Konate is the Vice President.

The Prime Minister, Kabine Komara, a veteran of Guinea's central bank and the Ministry of Finance, was most recently a senior director at the African Export-Import Bank in Cairomarker. Ahmed Tidiane Souaré, Prime Minister under the previous regime, swore loyalty to the junta. Souaré was recently arrested, apparently as part of a drug and corruption crackdown.

Theoretically, the politics of Guinea take place within the framework of a presidential republic. The President of Guinea is the head of state, head of government, and commander-in-chief of the Guinean military. The president serves a maximum of two 7-year terms. To be elected president of Guinea, a candidate must be a Guinean-born citizen by birth, be at least 35 years of age, and must be able to speak and read the French language.

Legislative power vests in the 114-member National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale.) Members serve for a four-year term, 38 members in single-seat constituencies and 76 members by proportional representation.

Guinea is a one-party-dominant state, the Party of Unity and Progress . Opposition parties are allowed but are widely considered to have no chance of gaining power. (Lansana Conté, who was in power from 1984 to 2008, ran four times.) Executive power is exercised by the president and cabinet members.

Regions and prefectures

Regions of Guinea


The Republic Guinea covers of West Africa about 10 degrees north of the equator. Guinea is divided into four natural regions with distinct human, geographic, and climatic characteristics:

  • Maritime Guinea (La Guinée Maritime) covers 18% of the country
  • Mid-Guinea (La Moyenne-Guinée) covers 20% of the country
  • Upper-Guinea (La Haute-Guinée) covers 38% of the country
  • Forested Guinea (Guinée Forestière) covers 23% of the country, and is both forested and mountainous


Guinea is divided into seven administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures. The national capital, Conakry, ranks as a special zone.



City populations

Populations of some of the larger cities, as estimated by World Gazeteer for 2008. The latest published census is from 1996.
  1. Conakrymarker (1,857,153)
  2. Nzérékorémarker (224,791)
  3. Guéckédoumarker (221,715)
  4. Kankanmarker (197,108)
  5. Kindiamarker (181,126)
  6. Kissidougoumarker (119,909)
  7. Bokémarker (116,270)
  8. Friamarker (110,586)
  9. Macentamarker (88,376)
  10. Kamsarmarker (88,222)
  11. Faranahmarker (87,083)
  12. Mamoumarker (76,269)
  13. Lola (60,911)
  14. Labémarker (58,649)


Geography

Map of Guinea


At , Guinea is roughly the size of the United Kingdommarker and slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Oregonmarker. There are of coastline and a total land border of . Its neighbours are Côte d'Ivoiremarker (Ivory Coast), Guinea-Bissaumarker, Liberiamarker, Malimarker, Senegalmarker and Sierra Leonemarker.

The country is divided into four main regions: the Basse-Coté lowlands, populated mainly by the Susu ethnic group; the cooler, mountainous Fouta Djallon that run roughly north-south through the middle of the country, populated by Peuls, the Sahelian Haute-Guinea to the northeast, populated by Malinké, and the forested jungle regions in the southeast, with several ethnic groups. Guinea's mountains are the source for the Niger, the Gambia, and Senegal Rivers, as well as the numerous rivers flowing to the sea on the west side of the range in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.

The highest point in Guinea is Mont Nimbamarker at . Although the Guinean and Ivorian sides of the Nimba Massifmarker are a UNESCOmarker Strict Nature Reserve, the portion of the so-called Guinean Backbone continues into Liberiamarker, where it has been mined for decades; the damage is quite evident in the Nzérékoré Regionmarker at .

Economy

Guinea has abundant natural resources including 25% or more of the world's known bauxite reserves. Guinea also has diamonds, gold, and other metals. The country has great potential for hydroelectric power. Bauxite and alumina are currently the only major exports. Other industries include processing plants for beer, juices, soft drinks and tobacco. Agriculture employs 80% of the nation's labour force. Under French rule, and at the beginning of independence, Guinea was a major exporter of bananas, pineapples, coffee, peanuts, and palm oil.

Mining

Richly endowed with minerals, Guinea possesses over 25 billion tonnes (metric tons) of bauxite – and perhaps up to one-half of the world's reserves. In addition, Guinea's mineral wealth includes more than 4-billion tonnes of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and undetermined quantities of uranium. Guinea has considerable potential for growth in agricultural and fishing sectors. Soil, water, and climatic conditions provide opportunities for large-scale irrigated farming and agro industry. Possibilities for investment and commercial activities exist in all these areas, but Guinea's poorly developed infrastructure and rampant corruption continue to present obstacles to large-scale investment projects.

Joint venture bauxite mining and alumina operations in northwest Guinea historically provide about 80% of Guinea's foreign exchange. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea (CBG) is the main player in the bauxite industry. CBG is a joint venture, 49% owned by the Guinean Government and 51% by an international consortium led by Alcoa and Alcan. CBG exports about 14 million tonnes of high-grade bauxite annually. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the Government of Guinea and Russki Alumina, produces some 2.5 million tonnes annually, nearly all of which is exported to Russiamarker and Eastern Europe. Dian Dian, a Guinean/Ukrainianmarker joint bauxite venture, has a projected production rate of per year, but is not expected to begin operations for several years. The Alumina Compagnie de Guinée (ACG), which took over the former Friguia Consortium, produced about 2.4 million tonnes in 2004 as raw material for its alumina refinery. The refinery exports about 750,000 tonnes of alumina. Both Global Alumina and Alcoa-Alcan have signed conventions with the Government of Guinea to build large alumina refineries with a combined capacity of about 4 million tonnes per year.

Diamonds and gold also are mined and exported on a large scale. AREDOR, a joint diamond-mining venture between the Guinean Government (50%) and an Australian, British, and Swissmarker consortium, began production in 1984 and mined diamonds that are 90% gem quality. Production stopped from 1993 until 1996, when First City Mining of Canada purchased the international portion of the consortium. The bulk of diamonds are mined artisanally. The largest gold mining operation in Guinea is a joint venture between the government and Ashanti Gold Fields of Ghanamarker. SMD also has a large gold mining facility in Lero near the Malian border. Other concession agreements have been signed for iron ore, but these projects await preliminary exploration and financing results.

Problems and reforms

The Guinean Government adopted policies in the 1990s to return commercial activity to the private sector, promote investment, reduce the role of the state in the economy, and improve the administrative and judicial framework. Guinea has the potential to develop, if the government carries out its announced policy reforms, and if the private sector responds appropriately. So far, corruption and favoritism, lack of long-term political stability, and lack of a transparent budgeting process continue to dampen foreign investor interest in major projects in Guinea.

Reforms since 1985 include eliminating restrictions on agriculture and foreign trade, liquidation of some parastatals, the creation of a realistic exchange rate, increased spending on education, and cutting the government bureaucracy. In July 1996, President Lansana Conté appointed a new government, which promised major economic reforms, including financial and judicial reform, rationalization of public expenditures, and improved government revenue collection. Under 1996 and 1998 International Monetary Fundmarker (IMF)/World Bank agreements, Guinea continued fiscal reforms and privatization, and shifted governmental expenditures and internal reforms to the education, health, infrastructure, banking, and justice sectors.

The government revised the private investment code in 1998 to stimulate economic activity in the spirit of free enterprise. The code does not discriminate between foreigners and nationals and allows for repatriation of profits. While the code restricts development of Guinea's hydraulic resources to projects in which Guineans have majority shareholdings and management control, it does contain a clause permitting negotiations of more favorable conditions for investors in specific agreements. Foreign investments outside Conakry are entitled to more favorable terms. A national investment commission has been formed to review all investment proposals. Guinea and the United Statesmarker have an investment guarantee agreement that offers political risk insurance to American investors through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). In addition, Guinea has inaugurated an arbitration court system, which allows for the quick resolution of commercial disputes.

Cabinet changes in 1999, which increased corruption, economic mismanagement, and excessive government spending, combined to slow the momentum for economic reform. The informal sector continues to be a major contributor to the economy.

Until June 2001, private operators managed the production, distribution, and fee-collection operations of water and electricity under performance-based contracts with the Government of Guinea. However, the two utilities are plagued by inefficiency and corruption. Foreign private investors in these operations departed the country in frustration.

In 2002, the IMFmarker suspended Guinea's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) because the government failed to meet key performance criteria. In reviews of the PRGF, the World Bank noted that Guinea had met its spending goals in targeted social priority sectors. However, spending in other areas, primarily defense, contributed to a significant fiscal deficit. The loss of IMF funds forced the government to finance its debts through Central Bank advances. The pursuit of unsound economic policies has resulted in imbalances that are proving hard to correct.

Under then-Prime Minister Diallo, the government began a rigorous reform agenda in December 2004 designed to return Guinea to a PRGF with the IMF. Exchange rates have been allowed to float, price controls on gasoline have been loosened, and government spending has been reduced while tax collection has been improved. These reforms have not reduced inflation, which hit 27% in 2004 and 30% in 2005. Currency depreciation is also a concern. The Guinea franc was trading at 2550 to the dollar in January 2005. It hit 5554 to the dollar by October 2006.

Despite the opening in 2005 of a new road connecting Guinea and Mali, most major roadways remain in poor repair, slowing the delivery of goods to local markets. Electricity and water shortages are frequent and sustained, and many businesses are forced to use expensive power generators and fuel to stay open.

Even though there are many problems plaguing Guinea's economy, not all foreign investors are reluctant to come to Guinea. Global Alumina's proposed alumina refinery has a price tag above $2 billion. Alcoa and Alcan are proposing a slightly smaller refinery worth about $1.5 billion. Taken together, they represent the largest private investment in sub-Saharan Africa since the Chad-Cameroon oil pipelinemarker. Also, Hyperdynamics Corporation, an American oil company, signed an agreement in 2006 to develop Guinea's offshore Senegal Basin oil deposits in a 31,000 square mile concession; it is pursuing seismic exploration.

On 13 October 2009, Guinean Mines Minister Mahmoud Thiam announced that the Chinese International Fund would invest more than $7bn (£4.5bn) in infrastructure. In return, he said the firm would be a "strategic partner" in all mining projects in the mineral-rich nation. He said the firm would help build ports, railway lines, power plants, low-cost housing and even a new administrative centre in the capital, Conakrymarker. However, analysts say that the timing of the deal is likely to stir controversy, as the legitimacy of Guinea's government is under question.

Oil

Africa's west coast is now ripe for oil development, and Guinea is actively being courted in this endeavor. Hyperdynamics Corporation (Sugarland, TX) and Guinea signed a Production sharing agreement in 2006, and have been diligently exploring. Many large oil companies claim that this area, which Guinea centers, might be able to supply the United States with nearly 30% of its oil within ten years.

Transportation

The railway which operated from Conakry to Kankanmarker ceased operating in the mid-1980s . Domestic air services are intermittent. Most vehicles in Guinea are 20+ years old, and cabs are any four-door vehicle which the owner has designated as being for hire. Locals, nearly entirely without vehicles of their own, rely upon these taxis (which charge per seat) and small buses to take them around town and across the country. There is some river traffic on the Niger and Milo rivers. Horses and donkeys pull carts, primarily to transport construction materials.

Iron mining at Simandoumarker in the southeast beginning in 2007 and at Kalia in the east is likely to result in the construction of a new heavy-duty standard gauge railway and deepwater port.

Demography

Guinean children
The population of Guinea is estimated at 10,211,437. Conakry, the capital and largest city, is the hub of Guinea's economy, commerce, education, and culture.

Languages

The official language of Guinea is French. Other significant languages spoken are Maninka, Susu,Pular (Fulfulde or Fulani), Kissi, Kpelle, and Loma.

Ethnicity

The population of Guinea comprises about 24 ethnic groups. The Fulani, also known as the Fula, comprise 38% of the population. They are mostly found in the Futa Jallon region. The Mandinka, also known as Mandingo, comprise 26% of the population and are mostly found in eastern Guinea concentrated around the Kankan and Kissidougou prefectures. The Soussou, comprising 12%, are predominantly in western areas around the capital Conakrymarker, Forécariahmarker, and Kindiamarker. Smaller ethnic groups make up the remaining 24% of the population, including Kpelle (5%), Kissi (5%) and others (14%). Non-Africans total about 10,000 (mostly Lebanese, French, and other Europeans).

Religion

Islam is the dominant religion. Approximately 85% Muslim. 10% is Christian, and 5% holds traditional animist beliefs. Muslims are generally Sunni; there are relatively few Shi'a, although they are increasing in number. Christian groups include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, and other Evangelical groups active in the country and recognized by the Government. There is a small Baha'i community. There are small numbers of Hindus, Buddhists, and traditional Chinese religious groups among the expatriate community.

Military

The Guinean armed forces are divided into four branches:

The army

By far the largest branch of the armed forces, with about 15,000 personnel, the army is mainly responsible for protecting the state borders, the security of administered territories, and defending Guinea's national interests.

Air force

Air force personnel total about 700. The force's equipment includes several Russian-supplied fighter planes and transports.

Navy

The navy has about 900 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges.

Gendarmerie

A branch of the Guinean Armed Forces responsible for internal security. Its members are not police officers.

Healthcare

Guinea has been reorganizing its health system since the Bamako Initiative of 1987 formally promoted community-based methods of increasing accessibility of drugs and health care services to the population, in part by implementing user fees. The new strategy dramatically increased accessibility through community-based healthcare (including community ownership and local budgeting), resulting in more efficient and equitable provision of services. A comprehensive strategy was extended to all areas of health care, with subsequent improvement in health indicators and improvement in health care efficiency and cost.Guinea's public health code is defined by Law No. L/97/021/AN of 19 June 1997 promulgating the Public Health Code. The law provides for the protection and promotion of health and for the rights and duties of the individual, the family, and community throughout the territory of the Republic of Guinea.

HIV/AIDS in Guinea

The first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in 1986. Though levels of AIDS are significantly lower than in a number of other African countries, as of 2005, Guinea was considered by the World Health Organization to face a generalized epidemic.

An estimated 170,000 adults and children were infected at the end of 2004. The spread of the epidemic was attributed to factors such as proximity to high-prevalence countries, a large refugee population, internal displacement and subregional instability.

Culture

Like other West African countries, Guinea has a rich musical tradition. The group Bembeya Jazz became popular in the 1960s after Guinean independence.

Sports

Guinea's main sport is association football (soccer), and although the national team has never made the FIFA World Cup, it has appeared at eight African Nations Cup finals; it was runner-up in 1976 and reached the quarter-finals in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Swimming is popular near the capital, Conakry, and hiking is possible in the Fouta Djallon region. However, the official national sport is Table Tennis.

See also



References

  1. See, for example, Univ. of Iowa map, Music Videos of Guinea Conakry - Clips Guineens, The Anglican Diocese of Guinea - Conakry, Canal France International's English-language page for Guinea Conakry
  2. Guinea drug agents are 'corrupt', BBC News (22 October 2008)
  3. For historical context, see "Guinea: has a nascent democracy lost its way?" in the Harvard Law Record
  4. World Gazatteer
  5. "Joint Venture Opportunity Offshore the West Coast of Africa", Hyperdynamics Corporation (2008)
  6. Guinea (08/09). U.S. Department of State.
  7. International Religious Freedom Report 2008: Guinea. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (December 29, 2008). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.


External links

Government


General information


News media
  • Guinéenews Latest news about Guinea - Updated breaking news about the Republic of Guinea.
  • Aminata.com Online news source concerning Guinea


Tourism


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